On a modest Spring day, a rural town nestled among the craggy landscape of the Canadian Rockies was beginning to stir. The sky was a brilliant Maya blue. Snow still glazed to the tips of the mountains that overlooked this tranquil place. Birds could be heard singing ubiquitously through bedroom windows, their songs welcoming early risers to the day anew.
I was just a boy back then, so memories of that time are sparse, to say the least. But this one, however, was gifted to me by my older sister, Lisa. And it is one that I will never let go.
I must have been 6, maybe 7 at the time. That would have made my sister… 12… 13. I bring this up because my sister had been tasked with taking me to the park. See, she had plans to go and see some friends. My zealous urchin ears must have caught sound of this and thusly invited myself along. This did not fall in line with my sister’s concepts of the day. As such, she said no; I began to cry and then… mum said yes. Meaning that she was now bound by parental law to bring her nettlesome sibling along.
My sister’s unease at bringing me along went beyond that of simply finding me annoying. Though, that too was likely a factor, it was no doubt heightened by the fact that although I wanted to go with her, I did not want to leave the house without my carefully selected attire… attire that my adolescent sister deemed utterly inappropriate and frightfully embarrassing. Our quarrel continued.
My mother no doubt shouted at both of us, demanding silence. Lisa pleaded with judge mum, but sentence, fair or not was handed down and she was to acquiesce to all stipulations. I can still feel the smolder of my sister’s piercing blue eyes.
“Fine, let’s go!” she said through shortened tone.
A smile had wiggled its way onto my mischievous face. “One second… I gotta go get it!” I took off into my room, running as fast as a speeding bullet. At least, in my mind anyway.
When I returned to the front door where my sister stood, cross-armed and austere, her mouth fell open… it was worse than she had thought.
“Mum! Mother… come look at this… he cannot come with me dressed like that!” My sister tossed this desperate howl over her shoulder and into the kitchen where my mother had been sat, cigarette in hand, and tea steeping in front of her on the table. The chair legs scraped angrily along the linoleum floor… my mother was coming.
She rounded the corner, still donned in the regalia of the recently woken. An ethereal tail of animated cigarette smoke followed in-behind her as she came into view. She took me in with her weary mother’s gaze and then shot a glance over to my bewildered sister, then back to me.
“What?! He likes to wear it, you know that!”
“Mum, I am going to meet my friends… do you know how embarrassing that is?!” My sister lamented while gesticulating desperately in my direction.
“Lisa, stop it! He’s going with you, period!” My mother retreated back behind the wall. Law had been spoken.
My sister’s head fell and she watched as all of her hopes for a different outcome crashed to the floor. You could almost hear them breaking like fine china. Her gaze ascended, I once again found myself on the receiving end of a vengeful stare. Beams of red-hot anger shot from her eyes. But it was all for not—I was still very much excited and ready to go!
She pulled the door open and fled through the opening. I followed quickly in-behind her. I stood for a moment on the top step, just passed the door. I felt a juxtaposing breeze of chill and warmth circulate in and around the open spaces of where I stood. I placed my hands on my hips and took a deep inhalation of that crisp mountain air. I closed my eyes and basked in the glory of a morning sun. Even the birds stopped for a moment, likely breathless at what stood before them. I know for certain that my sister was in a state of incredulity, her face informed me of that.
On that spring morning, as the seasons were melting from one into the other, I stood tall, filling out the entirety of my 3-foot, six-inch frame. Hands securely rested onto the boney crests of my juvenile hips. Feet, shoulder width apart, of course. Head purposefully, perhaps even arrogantly canted to the side, staring into the distance at the end of our block. I could not have been more triumphant. I swear, even the mountains bowed to a boy so… super.
Those of you whom know me will know that I love Superman. Those of you who grew up with me (like my poor sister, Lisa) will know that as a boy, I used to love wearing my replica Superman attire everywhere! Yes, even to the park. Hence my sister’s protestations. Futile as they may have been.
“Matthew! Stop standing there… let’s go!” My sister’s voice whipped in my ears. I bound from the top step to the sidewalk below. Landing with childish thuds to the pavement. I ran to match pace with my sister’s ireful strides. My little cape snapped at flapped as I did. That sound was no doubt adding to the fire of my sister’s burning embarrassment.
Upon reaching the park, my sister increased her distance and speed from me. She, like a good older sister, annoyed or not, tossed back a glance to make sure I was nearby. I was. Albeit in my own little world, but I was. She joined her friends and I proceeded to run from monkey bars to fireman’s pole. I jogged across the rickety, swaying bridge back and forth without tire. I crawled atop of the metal obstacles, even hanging from them to pretend that I was in flight!
And as all little brother’s do, I invaded the sanctity of my sister’s space. I ran over to where my sister and her friends had corralled and attempted to seamlessly join in with whatever it was they were doing.
“Hey, Lisa… watch this! Lisa… watch… Hey, Lis… hey… check this out. Watch!” My sister was doing her best to pretend that I did not exist. She kept her gaze and confabulations firmly cemented onto her friends. Even when I would pull at the sleeve of her shirt, she somehow managed to ignore me. It was at this moment that my young mind fabricated the only possible scenario for my sister’s apathetic dismissal of my presence… Someone had stollen her memory! And that someone was none other than: Lex Luthor!
I ran from person to person, even her friends, asking if they had seen my sister’s memory. I explained that Lex Luthor had stollen it from her. In a frenzy, I galloped over every inch of that grass and gravel filled park. I needed to save my sister! Even if that was the last thing she wanted me to do.
When my sister told me of this memory, we shared in a laugh with one another. It was nice to hear her laugh, because her life had been a little rough for a long time. This took place just before Christmas. I am trying my very best to capture and hold that laughter now. I don’t ever want to let it go.
On January 5th of this past week, my sister died suddenly and without warning. She was robbed from us. The last conversation that I ever had with my sister was about the memory that I just shared with you…
The world feels like an awfully big park right now, and I am feeling anything but super.
Lisa, I am going to miss you so much! Part of me keeps praying that this is just another one of my horrid nightmares. One of the only times I would place pray and nightmare in the same sentence, but I would do anything to have you back, Lisa. I can’t believe that this is all true.
I love you, Lisa. The world did, too. I wish you could see the impact that you had on so many. I have had multiples of people that I do not know reach out to me. They gift me anecdotes of their time spent with you. A currency I now deem priceless.
We’ve got eyes on Gracie, now. We’ll love that girl as you did.
My heart aches a thousand aches, Lisa. Each beat feels like I’m bleeding. And I guess contextually, if blood was measured in tears, I am… mortally so. A part of me has died with you. A part of all of us…
May you rest now, sis. Thanks for taking me to the park, even when you didn’t want to. Thanks for loving me all those years, especially when I didn’t make it easy. I was a super brat. But you… you were my big sis. Super Lisa!
Fly high, my dear sweet sister. I love you.